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March 26, 2015

Life in deep sediment of ocean's "deadest" region

Researchers found oxygen and oxygen-breathing microbes all the way through the sediment from the seafloor to the igneous basement at seven sites in the South Pacific gyre, considered the "deadest" location in the ocean. Their findings contrast with previous discoveries that oxygen was absent from all but the top few millimeters to decimeters of sediment in biologically productive regions of the ocean.

Based on the researchers' predictive model and core samples they collected in 2010 from the research drillship JOIDES Resolution, they believe that oxygen and aerobic microbes occur throughout the sediment in up to 37 percent of the world's oceans and 44 percent of the Pacific Ocean.

The research involved 35 scientists from 12 countries. The principal supporters of this research were the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

To read more about this research, see the NSF press release No limit to life in deep sediment of ocean's "deadest" region. (Date of Image: 2015)

Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller/NSF

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